Over and above cost savings, BPO clients today are seeking to improve quality, drive innovations, and achieve growth. The need to take a risk-averse approach in uncertain times is understandable. And yet, you still need to continually challenge the status quo.
|Driving Quality and Innovation
As the marketplace changes rapidly, it's important to adapt and modify operational processes to keep extracting greater business value and enhancing service delivery. Clearly, no one can afford to stand still in this business; therefore, outsourcing service providers must rely heavily on driving quality and innovation
to fuel their ability to deliver more value to clients and stay ahead of the competition.
Today, cost savings and meeting service levels consistently are simply baseline expectations. Clients continue to raise the bar in terms of what they expect from their vendors. How top-performing vendors differentiate themselves lies in the higher value that they layer over those baseline expectations, sustainable added value that directly contributes to richer enterprise top line.
In this climate, it's critical for outsourcing service providers to not only clear the ever-rising expectations bar, but to collaborate with clients on "next steps" to raise it even further. In interactions with clients, I am seeing the growing need to adopt the mindset of a value partnership as opposed to that of a simplistic vendor-client relationship. I have found that this value partnering approach drives both parties to strive towards higher level performance. At the heart of our overall operational structure therefore must be the goal to deliver strategic business impact to every client program through quality and innovation.
QUALITY BY DESIGN
Quality is a function of inputs and processes. Just as the chef in a fine dining establishment will carefully select the finest of ingredients, similarly a business will have to first and foremost ensure the foundational quality of its operations.
It is crucial to emphasize enterprise quality and consistency in the design phase of every implementation. This practice ensures that teams do not have to execute heroic efforts to achieve the desired levels of quality on the production floor.
Measuring quality in the input stages assures us of our ability to deliver a superior end product. Think about it... vendors measuring quality based on output metrics have essentially missed the boat in delivering strategic business impact to their clients and becoming value partners.
FOCUS ON TRAINING
Companies must recognize the different dynamics inherent with measuring quality across a large employee base. If one thinks of the individual contribution of a Swiss master watch craftsman, it is easy to understand the high value and precise timepieces that the individual is capable of producing.
However, if the company were to expand and hire 100 craftsmen to perform the same job, quality measurement takes on a whole different meaning. An overlay of training will have to be added to the business operations to uphold consistency and quality standards in output.
The reason our industry is able to achieve economies of scale and benefit from strong process orientation has a lot to do with establishing stellar training programs under a repeatable framework. For example, in customer service, there are simply too many variables—we are constantly balancing variability with quality and consistency, while managing costs at the same time!
One could say that the process is very much akin to walking a tightrope, but we manage to forge ahead fearlessly as we have a "net" we can rely on, which goes back to the quality we had built into the design stage. Before employees are released to the production floor, they have undergone rigorous training, experienced real life simulations, with plenty of opportunity to handle and overcome the variables inherent in customer lifecycle management
FOCUS ON STRUCTURE OF DELIVERY
In dealing with millions of transactions, structure of delivery becomes a critical component in achieving high impact results for clients. The most underestimated factor that affects profitability in our business is the cost of poor quality. There is no way of knowing the full extent of repercussions brought about by a single, poorly-handled customer interaction. In today’s interconnected world, sub-standard service delivery hurts all of us, because it can quickly translate to a bad reputation and a tarnished brand.
Therefore, our systems need to be in place to minimize incidents and mitigate the impact of poor quality. Investments in effective and proven information security and compliance
tools, such as Six Sigma, COPC, and ISO, bring down the cost of doing business while enhancing quality and breaking new paths for innovations. These tools ensure that every interaction is a quality interaction-from comprehending the customer's problem, to identifying a key solution, to providing feedback to the enterprise so that product quality is continually improved.
One might think we can now sit back and relax because we already have the formula down pat-high performing staff, best practices, optimized processes, and transformational tools. True, these strong foundational elements make it possible for us to do better and work smarter; however, we still need to keep challenging the status quo.
At the end of the day, it's all about helping clients weather the tough economic climate and doing our part to position them for more robust financial times. If every time we take a call, we remind ourselves that our jobs reflect the great trust and confidence that our clients have in our ability to handle the most important aspect of their business—their precious customers-every interaction will echo our pride in the work we do and our intrinsic desire to delight every customer.
How do you build quality into every customer interaction? Have we entered a new era of outsourcing in which value partnerships are key to success? Share your tips in the comments!